Sunday, November 20, 2011

Guided Missal 9: Concluding Rites

Prayer After Communion (Postcommunion Prayer)

Following the administration of Holy Communion, the priest-celebrant calls upon the faithful to rise for a closing prayer, one that makes reference to the Eucharist having been received. The following is the one for the First Sunday of Advent. As usual, this vignette begins with the Latin text, followed by the 1973 translation, and finally the 2010 version.

Prosint nobis, quaesumus, Domine,
frequentata mysteria,
quibus nos, inter praetereuntia ambulantes,
iam nunc instituis amare caelestia
et inhaerere mansuris.

+ + +

may our communion
teach us to love heaven.
May its promise and hope
guide our way on earth.

+ + +

May these mysteries, O Lord,
in which we have participated, profit us, we pray,
for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
you teach us by them to love the things of heaven
and hold fast to what endures.

Note once again how brief the 1973 version is compared to its Latin equivalent, as it becomes apparent that the translation is merely (and as usual) a paraphrase of what the Church actually prays. Indeed, as such orations go, this is one of the more egregious examples, such is the extent of its blandness. Still, the revised English text is not exactly a slavish translation of the original. (Note where "quaesumus" appears as "we pray" in the vernacular text.) Father Zuhlsdorf provides an insight with his own "slavishly accurate" text.

We beg You, O Lord, may they be profitable for us,
these oft celebrated sacramental mysteries,
by which You instruct that we,
walking amidst the things that are passing away,
would now in this very moment love heavenly things
and cleave to the things that will endure.

Even this rendering is not "word for word."

There are instances in the new Roman Missal, where the characteristics of Latin grammar do not carry over quite so eloquently into English. This particular oration was likely thought by the translators to be one of them. The principle followed here is less "word for word" than it is "meaning for meaning."


Before the faithful are dismissed, the celebrant gives his blessing. Except for the rendering of "Et cum spiritu tuo," the text for the standard version is left unchanged.

Dòminus vobìscum.
Et cum spìritu tuo.

Benedìcat vos omnipotens Deus,
Pater, et Filius,
et Spìritus Sanctus.

+ + +

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

May almighty God bless you,
the Father, and the Son,
and the Holy Spirit.

There is also a provision for a Pontifical Mass, where the celebrant receives the miter from his attendant, extends his right hand, and says:

Dòminus vobìscum.
Et cum spìritu tuo.

Sit nomen Dòmini benedìctum.
Ex hoc nunc et usque in sàeculum.

Adiutòrium nostrum in nòmine Dòmini.
Qui fecit caelum et terram.

Benedìcat vos omnipotens Deus ...

+ + +

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Now and forever.

Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Who made heaven and earth.

May almighty God bless you ...

At this point in the rubrics of the Order of Mass, we also read the following:

“On certain days or occasions, this formula of blessing is preceded, in accordance with the rubrics, by another more solemn formula of blessing or by a prayer over the people.” (142)

Turning to the appropriate page, we see further instruction:

“The following blessings may be used, at the discretion of the Priest, at the end of the celebration of Mass, or of a Liturgy of the Word, or of the Office, or of the Sacraments.

The Deacon or, in his absence, the Priest himself, says the invitation:
Bow down for the blessing. Then the Priest, with hands extended over the people, says the blessing, with all responding: Amen.” (emphasis added)

In the traditional form of the Roman Mass, the "Blessing Over the People" took place during Masses on the weekdays of Lent. In the reformed Novus Ordo Missae, there are formulas for the entire year, and for certain occasions, the use of which are optional.

One advantage of the traditional (or "extraordinary") form, is that, after fifteen centuries of development, there is little left to the imagination. Not all priests are liturgists, and not all use the best judgment. As we have seen in recent years, many of them use very bad judgment, with the impression of being able to make things up as they go along. They do not require encouragement, and leaving options to their own discretion has the potential to do precisely that.


The faithful are then dismissed. The celebrant would ordinarily use a formula similar to (and more literal than) that which was used before ...

Ite, missa est.
Deo gràtias.

+ + +

The Mass is ended, go in peace.
Thanks be to God.

+ + +

Go forth, the Mass is ended.
Thanks be to God.

... except that, in 2008, when Pope Benedict XVI authorized a number of minor corrections to the current Latin text (the "Editio Typica Tertia Emendata"), he also included three additional formulas for the dismissal of the faithful -- again, in the official Latin text.

Ite ad Evangelium Domini annuntiandum. (Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.)

Ite in pace, glorificando vita vestra Dominum. (Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.)

Ite in pace. (Go in peace.)

In an interview that same year with Gianni Cardinale of 30Giorni (30 Days) magazine, Francis Cardinal Arinze, then-Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, explained the process that led to the additions.

Already at the Synod many Fathers, wishing for alternative expressions to express the missionary dimension of the final greeting, had suggested, for example, the following idea: “The Eucharistic celebration is over. Go now and live what we have heard, received, sung, prayed and meditated”. When asked by the Pope our Congregation launched a study which was followed by extensive consultation from which as many as 72 alternative formulas emerged. Before presenting them to Benedict XVI we reduced the number to nine, and out of those the Pope chose these three.

There are those who wonder (including yours truly) why a Pope who has written so extensively, and so eloquently, on the "hermeneutic of rupture" in the official liturgical reform, would use what should have been merely a correction of typographical errors and routine additions of commemorations of saints, to add anything which would have no basis in the history of the Roman liturgy, regardless of its merit. Presumedly, after an hour or more, the faithful might already "get it." Were this not so, is the addition of a sentence on their way out the door an effective catechesis?

On the other hand, we might be grateful that all nine final alternatives, never mind all seventy-two of those drafted, were never published. To that, we can truly respond, “Deo gratias.”

+    +    +

Here ends our study of the Order of Mass itself, in particular, the alterations to the English-language text therein. With our tenth and final installment, to be published next week, on the First Sunday of Advent, we will examine the "Critical Issues" surrounding implementation of the new Roman Missal. We will explore the unfinished business that remains in fulfilling its purpose, and its enhancement of the official worship of the Church, and thus ad majorem Dei gloriam.

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